A COM uudy fn conventional military force aueument (with tshonatUmt) for Inlrlli pence managers, collector* and analysts.
U.S. INTELLIGENCE AND SOVIET ARMOR
Paul F. Gorman Mh- General, USA
htnkpiece aims atentral, unresolved issue in conventional force assessment, andutorial for senior intelligence officers in associated problems of collect tun and analysts It beginseview of the centrahty of maneuver armor to the Sovieti.efutation of the commonly held belief that SATO antitank guided misstUt (ATCU) offset the Warsaw tact's advantage in armor. Thereetroepeetus of recent trendsaying out of the options open to designers of armor protection and armor penetrants,pecific forecast of Soviet Interna Finally, there is an exegesis on intelligence implications, culminatingroadly tketched plan of action.
Soviet strategy in Centraluttressed byoviet tanks are the most visible clement of Soviet power there.8 Ihe USSR has built0 armored vehicles for maneuver: nearly four limes as many tanks at the United States, socio three times as many armored infantry carriers. Tbe beat Soviet armored vehicles are clearly superior to US counterparts, less because of technological breakthrough than the resolute, relentless Soviet materiel acquisition process Soviet industry, supported by procurement funds foe land force arms which. outlays, grinds out new modVb which outstrip ours in Quality and quantity The near-termor more of the samehe Warsaw Pact will outproduce NATO in large-gun, advanced-armor tanks more. NATO's precision guided missiles (PCM) are unlikely to give tbe Soviets doubts about the continued efficacy of their armor, since their counters are both impressively numerous and redundant.
Nor are longer term prospects more promising.. innovations4 promise two effective new tanks forA3 andange of potent new tank penetrants andoviet measures. anti-armor weapons, which we now know have been Quite effective in, could keep them well out in front of American developments throughout. In the arms likely to dominate the outcomeuture battle for Centralfighting vehicles and. Army, then, probably will remain qualitatively and quantitatively Inferior The domestic and International implications of thisit generallygrave indeed
What could change this bleak prognosis it better intelligence on Ihe nature of Soviet armor and projectile, for lank gum, and on Soviet countermeasures against VS. preciiion guided missilesnt.ommunity leaden must appreciate lhat
Ittrue neither that antitank mi&iles have outmoded the tank nor Ihal armor and penetrants have reached (heir respective technological performance limit*
In, fielded tanks could be uparmored to counter new threats, and upgunned via new ammunition to defeat unforeseen forms of adversary armor
An armor can be designed lo fend off any knownenetrant tan be designed to defeat any known armor.
More than in aay other field of armamenli. the development ol tanks and precision guided missiles is sensitive lo and can benefit enormously fromcquisition and interpretation of intelligence. The men and .omen of the VS. inlellinence community can thus exert powerlul and immediate leverage on the crucial balance of conventional military forces arrayed in Europe.
Given perceived nudear parity, apprehension over the balance of conventional armaments could bear decisively on the cohesion of the Atlantic alliance in peace, or its armies in war. Moreover, there are Urge sums of US defense funds Involved in decisions .hich turn on intelligence estimates of Soviet development of penetrant* and protection. intelligence gaps pertaining to strategic weapons would, were they closed, scarcely affect on-going programs. But the intelligence shortfall re Soviet armor has already influenced billion-dollar decisions on the XM-I, TOW. and tank ammunition programs. Further clearing of uncertainty could have immediate impact Herease where modes! improvements in inlelligcnce could cause multiple reallocatioas of defense funds, and coocefvably. become the linehpio la NATOconfidence and credibility.
Armor In Soviei Strategy
A nation's outlays for war materiel telltale its anticipated style of combat Over the pastears, armor for land force maneuver has stood second highest among the topoviet separate weapon systems procurement programs, and wall up among general categories of weapon* (tee table,his investment haa provided the USSR with an active inventory of0 main battletimetS.more0 modem infantry combattimes Ihe VS. fleet, r
This emphasis leaves little doubt that the Soviet Union sees armor as IU principal means of controlling Und and people This is so nolwilhtlanding NATO's deployrnerit of Urge numbers of precision-guided missiles and other antiarmor ordnance, and despite the strains armor procurement imposes on Warsaw Pact feerwmies beleaguered by growing shortages of energy, manpower, and raw materials. The Soviets perceive armor as tbe makeweight In the conventional arms balance In Central Europe, now and for the foreseeable future.
Major Weapon Procurement Programa
Topndividual Syitemt (Ranked by Coil)
Aaaatm* aaaapfcji Mb ha*
Ne* IonbomberUrso ICHM SA-XIO1
Soviel Weapon Procurcmcol CatcRoeiei
NUpBoil. and UttUl spar* partiud*dh wktac tanlaSJ aad (our Irpai of armored powoDal oarrtsn or latanby tiabnai rAlda (BMP. BUD.nd BR DM) NB 9 npsadnorea (or lW were up MO poronl
andountry lo country.
In, the tsnk proving grounds of Russia were the womb of the Nan panzer armies.
Marshal Tukhachevsky was practicing "blitskriog" with actual tanks and dose air support when Cudcrian ef of were still eiperimenting with plywood mock-ups
- Only the USSR eiplolted the genius of the American lank designer Waller Christie, whose Inventions underwrote World War lis best lank the4
Stalin's purges of Tukhacbcvsky and other Red Army leaders vitiated the effectiveness of Soviet armor, and Hitler's armor leaders nearlyoviet tank fleet outnumbering theirs by more than four to one. teaching theowerful lesson In how many tanks are enough
The Soviets' military history of World War II depicts the Red Army's armor as the spearhead of victory. Yetanks comprised lessercent of USSR ground forces, today, tanks are more thanercent. The current Soviet motorized rifle division hasimes the tanks of its World War II counterpart,imes the number of armored infantry carriers.
5 armor has been used frequently to underwrite Soviet politics In East Europe.
Armor is fundamental to contemporary Soviet strategy in Europe, ihe Middle East (exports to clientnd Asia (forces opposite PRC. Afghanistan).
'The Soviets have been first in space, first in tanks, far behind in computers, and last in ladies' lingerie" . Robert Kaiser. RUSSIA.
The USSR builds and fields large numbers of armored vehicles because
That has been its practice ever since tbe nascent Communist stale seized work! WadeTship in armor development after the Rapallo Treaty2
The Soviel armored vehicle Industry is. |ssjjaj| rr-'cri.nsc.t miliums of workers, and consuming huge quantities of steel, other raw materials, and energy.
and accompanying armored vehicles are iinr qua non foe the high-tempo, offensive operations prescribed in Soviet military doctrine for either nuclear or conventional warfare-Even if. after Brezhnev leaves the scene, tbe new Sovset leadership wanted to
divert resources from armor programs, it might well be stymied by sheer societal inertia: the USSR seems irrevocably committed to producing armor, in huge quantity, and of high quality.
Soviet Armor Production
In recentoviet tankC production hu dwarfed that of the United States.oviet factories have turned out0 armored fighting vehicles: about four times as many tanks, and about three times asCs as ihe United States.roduction of outmoded models ceased, and at least one large plant al Omsk was refurbished. Assuming past production trends continue, total annual produciion of tanks couldercent over Ihe next few yean.
of Armored Personnel Carriers
Soviets have systematically modernized their armor Inventories. Since the, when the United States began to issue0 series tankeries armored personnel carrier (vehicles which remain9 our only armor produciionhe Soviets have fielded no less than three types of main battle tanks and three new armored personnel carriers.42 tanks have beenthan the. fleet of0 series. Moreover,. forces are still dependent (with0 series) upon homogeneous steel armor and rifled, manually served guns,42 tanks are protected by more advanced armor and mount large-caliber, high-velocity, smoothbore, automatically loaded cannon. Soviet armored infantry vehicles have both smoothbore antitank cannons and on-vehicle antitank guided missiles as well as firing ports, whileountsorld War ii vintage machine gun, and has no firing ports. Soviet tank crews have been reduced from four soldiers to three by the addition of automatic loaders, and the newer Soviet tanks incorporate both stabilization and electro-optical fire control instruments further to automate gunnery, and to Increase first-round hit probability with less training
It is not that Soviet armor designers have access to technologies beyond the reach of. counterparts. The United States could have built and fielded superior, or at least comparable, armored vehicles. To the degree that the Soviets todayechnological advantage in their deployed, high-quality armor systems, lhat edge proceeds from compressed development cycle* In close sequence, plus their willingness toartially developed vehicle into production and into operational
units, allowing Ihe vehicle to mature in use via product improvement* Thua, the gap between US. and Soviet armorunction of advanced Soviet technologyesolute. reJenllets materiel-acquisition process:
ARMOR MATERIEL ACQUISITION PROCESS
OUraMlnuoBi ind trophy nRw dr^lopment. produel Improvement. foaWon devrioprnenl
Turuoienop Id doitn. prodvctlon and lew lumi moiling (torn ducorrllnuoui dcvnloprrvirnl
Hcaulrement (or rtM-ellecrlverwu analvmi bund on opcraUonal left ViHrbet lime prior lo prodocfio* drxisictr.
or mlwon imMlhtv. em al tin of fompieuly In manoluturf and iraaioaenam afield
Search (or SVMficam- mtnmct, beyondmM of MrWorr. "rui. of am eel
Teimooped dewiopmenl. predocioilow-or. development
ConlirNoudy opeialina drdm burraui woiiina on ruccentve modoli
Toll In openUooal wiin production and Irn-piovrmsM vu retrofit io ututi
Dnlara (or narrow nwsiom. ai lowrlak to injure, andAcceptance of modal
.ample, ahhouakUmY.imuy ofform U> Cermaav. hai barnainor idm been mprowd ovn Umr vU xlraavc aad ertttrafre anodlf icatrora,hole new power plain Walk wet. drlecUS Ian* -ould haveajor Kaadsl. wc could detect almost ao perturt-tkmi la Ihe Win defnue mUbUimrm over thru baue Dunne thamonlhi (ApreVOctober ISTW. irfn.ro.rd TMi wore replarlnaiZiSi among SorW foroa* In Germant at the rale of abo* |O0 per month
The Soviet materiel-acquisiton process for land forces is supported lavishly. standards. In fact, the estimated dollar cost of Soviet outlays for land force arms over the past decade has been three limes the. outlays.
US and Soviet Land
oT US Dultsm HUh
Coal* of Hall.Ll.Li
The Question ofArmV flln
ossesses automatit electron* rangehndtr. [nublf lair* lanjtfmder.
3 AI hasoundsT-72
4. 2 possesses antiradiation liner
5 A1 does not have jutcnalic loade
4, when an upgraded version (designated XMl-El) be comes available with both additional armor protectionm gun,rmy eipocts the United States to beank as good as the Soviet follow-on to
I m gun for XML 4, XMI will not have automat* loader.
Similarly. Ihe US- Army ralea counterpart, the BMP
IUC dearly inferior to its4
based on lire, weight consideration BMP has passive Hi tight.
BMPoHecliva protection.hemical alarm BMP mountsm gun, has linng ports BMP mount: Saggar AT6M.
s the United States Infantry Fighting Vehicle become* available, the Army figures it may close the gap in quality, if not in quantity, compared with the BMP follow-nr.
I. aTV wJI possess superior suspension, horseprsartr/wfrghl ratio 7 ll bave thermal night sight
3 Judgment based on IFV Bushmiiter automatic cannon 4. Judgment based on 1FV Buihmaittr automatic cannon
with tbe foregoing dm. or comparable rxeseotatsoos, NATO supporters usually adduce two arguments which tbey fed offset putative Soviet strength in armor
ln asaesslng armor, all of NATO's tanks, not just those of the United States, slsould be counted.
NATO relies not just on tanks, but on antitank guided missiles (ATOM) and otlier advanced weapons to counter Soviet armor.
NATO vs. Warsaw Pact Tanks
Warsaw Pact tanks now outnumber NATO'sn peace, better1 rxMrrtobiliiation) andnlikely to improve its position5he Warsawikely lo maintain about tbe same edge
The first argument has merit bul proffers little comfort Over the past fiveATO's procurement of tanks hu averaged leu than half that of the Warsaw Pact.
While NATO is expected to addanks lo its inventory0hose Increases will be mainly from new British procurementtn gun Chieftain Challenger tanks). POMCUS (prcpodtioned overseas
Batlle Tankin Centralay5
NATO and JTanaiu Pact Main Battle Tank59
i87s 0 0
roatertrJ configured ineries. Qualitatively. NATO will leroain dependent on lank typesm or smaller main guns, and old-style, homogeneous armor, while the Warsaw Pact will be turning out larger numbers ol tanks with gunsm or larger bore, and advanced armor. If only such Large-gun, advanced-armor links be counted, the Warsaw Pact will probably outproduce NATO by more.
This difference In quality Is significant Presented below. Army comparison of the effectiveness of key tanks of the recent past and near future. The US. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Agency" has used for (hisynamic model of combat between two tanks (ooe-vrsius-onehe ruthernatlcal model is informed as feasible by data from bailies (for example, the3nd actual firings and other tests It aggregates outcomes of duels at various combat ranges, in which each protagonist is SO percent of the time fully eipoaed in the attack, and SO percent in bull defilade defending Variables In the model abo account for time of firing, probabilities of bit aod of kiu. round reliability, and rxobabilitv of sensing (using one shot to advantage in aiming thehus, this duel model evaluates two tanks by comparing the vulnerability and lethality of each, plus their respective rates of fire and accuracy, combined significantly over range and engagement time. Thus
'AMSAA aennMcd ii.ii anahili eipreslv lor ihw paper, data anote. Pt, that tha
The area on the chart labeled "Intelligence Shortfall" will be discussed at greater length in the concluding section of this paper, hut suffice to say here that possible comparisons between current and. and Soviet main battle tanks are defined by the upper curvehich Is4 intelligence projection used by the Army in seeking approval for it*evelopment program, and the lower curve0hich represent current intelligence projections crediting Soviet armor with high protective prowess (upper bound, or worst casenformation available now Indicates that tbe actual state of affairs is much closer to the bottom curve than the upper curve. In brief, the United States is now behind, tank for tank, and even when our developmentalepicted-uranium round form cannon becomes available, thes likely to be no more than an even match for
VS Army data, were it available in Moscow, would conllrm Soviet seiulnga ot the superiority of2 over. tanks. The chart below draws on data from. Army Ballistic Research Laboratory, based on test firings, which compare the four main tank-killing weapons of. Seventh Army in Europe against three Soviet tanks:nd2 with our high and low estimates of Its armor thickness.2 LBower bound or "best case" version,2 UB is an upper bound or "worst case" version.. weapons include the DRAGON and TOW antitank guided missiles, andm tank cannon rounds:he current tungsten alloy fin-stabilized round, ands the depleted uraniumin-stabilized round about to be Issued. The plots depict probability of kill assuming hit on an attacking, fully and frontally exposed tank;
CURRENT WEAPONS 2 2 (LB) TGM
Probability of. Kill Given Hit. Firer and Target Stationary, Target Fully Exposed.Azimuth (Front).
As may bo seen, while all weapons have provided high assurance of kill againstheto be the moil numerous roundmpotent againstur two most powerful ATGM are marginalrontal attack against the lower bound-bestnd virtuallyagainst the upper bourKl-worst
"The graphic aiwuirwnt lithakiues used here Ate inw. ortitnal.ll, ununial Anions oibei problems mirUisnxehal ol(nmtailum In Ihu Itnlil of arraamml) Bdifficult. Wiihprotected by honMatemmiii aimoi. it has been easy to npna INhallly of threat wnaporn*ommon denoralriaioi th* ability of eachenetrate tome ilanttard armor, ruth ta "rolled
liornoamrom sttri plate itut wilt the advnit of rumlmawor-rawiB armon <urhail we
believe Ibr Sovieu annlov oef, nc- eaancwaltvc maasum moat be Borbl As lha US Ami BallWK fvmrcb Labor aloe, podS0vaat Uanoa haa (added two Brw unki4 andt Aa jslsaajwaai data aa lhaa* taahta becauna appariai thai (aj2 wearmrMinotcv. and (h) brtk appeared to haveha* for al) oi thevr frontal> of the aeMmufatavt taceiLcrac* data haa lad to Mui rarnaarai oftbn naromnul arrant mxhi be. and howaav perioral If our eWaiatet of wtui tbli
uTK-rnvntidil armi* could b* mainearrd into lb* tanks (Dei 'ban lhaa armor abo would
lutntantialiv improved bailUtirowe thai of anweliht of liontoayftHDs aerl armorppear* ibat lha niamifude of the Lm[iov?mnit in Wlliilk prolratin* wllh tke unconveatbaul armor It probably noi urn* ilmpk- aiulllpM of the equivalent wowht ofaaai armor, but Imlrad varies ftoento weaponomplicated way.
The adventew unoonventloiial annor on fielded Soviet lanki nuni twoarsol aad mM obvtouihaimust tmmcdlalelt teooratoWf our
riUtlos and developmentaltemi. and decide what acltnna are pnadcnl la thr face of tbli new threat The aacond. Ic* caWlou. problera ta lhat tha iceorauSeratKin of lha eapabtlirM of oar weapona
ilStmi is made Dutch mora dliflrvll by lha- toctpbciied pbeKHrwna lavolved lo Ibt termini] hallaftcl of
ariaesiK muruiioa aad lhe onxarvantional armor as weo*
taafcs war* taaaW ef hasaaaaaMa* atarias raiauWr aan loaar idea af rh* Whilrty of aaaalaapana asanas aaeh tanki by eoaaparuw Ihe prrwtralani capababrr of th* weapon Mate aecl im to the known or eipntnl Ihkkoaai of armor on lha laakf aeapna cook) penetrate X
ram ofeor.ad ton of ttcrt armor lo raach iba inlariwlof Ibe laak.
thenh* MlacAtag ieooM ba said to have urn* at nil leant Irthalitv. and thehe irraiar tha Wthihtv was likely to be (upamh Mmplmtc ooracepu or*r imtA lheiarmon. Attempt! Iu canniunWam aeapou ivitenuhil!t> initrJt Bteb armon have led lo treat oordmion amoral DoD dooiHon maken unfamiliar wtth the comphialcd torovlaal hallMM Uchrnloav involved."
To sum. whether one usesr Soviet calculations, thehat NATO can eipect,o advantage over Ihe Soviets in quality of armor or antiarmor weapons, andodest redressing of its preaenl quantitative disadvantage.
NATO's hope lie in more and better antitank guided missiles? In precision-guidcd munitions? Here. too. near futuie prospects are bleak. As indicated above, even lhe numerous, once-formklableOW ATOM isuestionable asset. As Ibe charthen the Soviets deployed2 tanks, they ended nearly lwo decades ol US. ATOM superiority. While it is possible that an improved (larger, faster) TOW-Uke missile may redress this deficiencyis these current tanks. Soviei armor on0ould stymie this development as well
th* prrrmntecncaie. Mth raptor*aoa el ordutair. that br turd oakidn. Iu nu> the tomoarsbU ATCM -artVad. >ho.-n
US ATOM .a. Soviet Tank
Here are diagrams generated by the computer of theesearch Laboratory which portray the vulnerability ot22 against frontal attack by DRAGON and TOW. the two ATCM now deployed throughout the Seventh Array The depiction for DRAGON is valid for afrontal attacketers range, that for TOW for afrontal attacketers range.
These diagrams illustrate vividly Ihe intelligence dtaensiom of the ATGM prcWem lacing US comirunders in Europe today: our ATGM dearly can defeatut thethe like armoredbe largely invulnerable to them. In fact, chances are betterhat cither TOW or DRAGON would explode without effect against the nose ofven if lltat tank's armor is only of "lower bound, best case" toughness In the upper bound, worst case, the probability of kill declines to less thanrudencehange In tactics to seek flanking, rear, or top shots for ourwhich lo some eitcnl will require them to sacrifice their range advantage, and render them more vulnerable to suppressive fires snd infantry attack.rmy is now developing an improved TOW missile whicharger warheadose probe lo optimizethis will not appear)
Tactics of Suppression
In any event, for coping with NATO ATGM tbe Soviets probably rely as much on suppressive fires as on armor protection Soviet doctrine stresses four types of suppression for ATGMs and other antiarmor defense* direct fire from tanks, supporting infantry fighting vehicles, and attack helicoplers, and indirect fire from artillery and mortars.
The Warsaw Treaty Organization Intends to use its tank superiority to overwhelm NATO ATOM. They believeigh density of attacking tanks can saturate the defense in any given aector They know lank guns can fire more rapidly than ATGM. and lhat Soviet tanks arc heavily armored to the front, and built low toinimal target Tlieir crews are drilledonlal engagement of ATGM wltile on the move. Whereas ammunitionanks in Germany consists mainly of ated darts for killing tanks (less thanercent high explosive or incendiaryoviet tanks carry mainly high explosive antipersonnel rounds for ATGM suppression
Aside from tanks, the Soviets print for suppression other direct fire weapons which can reach deep into NATO defensive positions lo destroy defending tanks and ATGM on vehicles or in bunkers Here Soviet ATGMole. During, while the United States has fielded Just twoeters) and TOWSoviets have fieldedThe blest Soviet antitank missile is theadio-conl rolled, semiautomatic,ioe-of-slght systemeters range. Although NATO has many more antitank weapons lhan tbe Pact, and will substantially increase Its lead in numbers of fielded AT weapons over the neat several yearsost such weapons will be of short range and of doubtful use against advanced armor like that ofonsidering only antitank systems with ranges greatereters, which are generally the more capable systems which figure in suppressive fires,4 tha Warsaw Pact will have increased Its advantage over NATO byercent. As for armored vehicles to move these and other infantry support weapons shout tbe battlefield, the Pactlear superiority now. and will1 rupcriority in infantry fighting vehicles4
Attack helicoptersype of mobile firepower moat useful against ATCM. for which the SovieU are pressing hard. As the table onakes evident, helicopter procurernent receives high priority In Soviet defense spending. Over the sii months. in Central Europe alone, the Pact increased its ground attack beucoptrrs someercent snd formed two newegiments
thrTR. reeeecaw ibr MTlAl LAW.dd mu. iboobudi af esaeWarase
AT rockets So the NATO inventory.
Both Ihcndrc heavily armed wilh direct fire weapons which on MiDprcsi or destroy NATO tank* and ATGM. Both are being produced in large numbers, and4 the Pact Is expected todvantage over NATO in attack helicopters.
Warsaw Pact Ground
ii HipHind 0
useful loadog/ams.fue! and pavtoadT
combat radius- <nm)
vsahi load ard
As (or artillery, which the Soviets regard as their main suppressive counter to ATCMs. the Warsaw Treaty Organization will maintain Its current overall superiority in numbers of tubes (about)oviet artillery rttodernization progiams include both mechanization (self-propelled guns/howitzers) snd upgraded munitions, including bomblet dispensing rounds. Heche!te-type shrapnel, and proximity fuses calculated to be especially effective against ATGM. even If protected by currently issued nylon blankets. The crucial difference for Ihc force balance in Europe is perhaps best measured by relative firepower surge capabilities. These eapress on the Warsaw Pact (WTO) side the capability for fires to kill or blind preparatory to an attack, or ATGM wppeession/ooscuratlon during an attack. On the
So vie' Armor
NATO ride, these show maximum counlcrbalteTy^lirei As the chart below makes evident,4 NATO's relative inferiority will increase:
Comparative Artillery Surge Throw Weights Central4
summarise,4 at least, large numbers of Soviet armored vehicles will weigh heavily in the balance of forces In Europe:
The Warsaw Fact will retain numerical superiority in armor and will increase their qualitative edge.
Theuilding over more effective counters to NATO ATGM in the form of both direct fire weapons on armored vehicles and on helicopters,reponderance of indirect (artillery) fires.
la rnu b
II. THE OUTLOOK FOR ARMOR
Trends in Arrnor-Anliartnor Warfare
Tanb are designed lo provide direct fire from cannon, mjxninegun. guided missile or flame weapons which are both armor-protected and mobile. Modern tanks are significantly more lethal than Ihe armored vehicles which fought in World War II. Trying to hit another stationary tankangeeters,. Army medium tank of World War II could fiieounds, and would still havehance of hitting. The. medium lank of theommanded ihe same hit probabilityingle shot
TOROBABILITY OF HIT ON STANDING TANK0 METERS:
WORLD WAR UMEDIUM TANK-MAD TO FIREOUNDS
KOREAN WAR MEDIUM TANK -HAD TOOUNDS
S MEDIUM TANK- NEEDS TOOUND
' chart! plot charadertilrcs of the main battle lanb of the two major tank-producing nations over threep to theach point records the year inignificant improvement was Introduced.he technical developments shown led many to conclude that the tank had been engineered tu ei poet able economic limits.
VElOCrTY Th* return* watoerry ot I
Improvements in gun accuracy and range have? increased theWe lank could command with Its weapon
Save* moil tank rNiaaaby tnaoouraiathalighti ol WW IIfirst byItndars.nd an.na i. In tha
ADVANCE IN TANK CANNON TECHNOLOGY
Taken together, thaaa advances have Incraaaad Mlld-andount ojunaan graatar rang* arad occuracy.
Pti: Probavbfflty of hit
COMMAND OF QHOUND
One implication el ancraaa* an range aa power ta Ihal lha tank mlluaneai much moia terrain Uian formacty. Tha lac lie at raach ol Iha modam tar*tr aaraandaimia at much g'OurvJ
kaaar rang* fkndera
tanks have not only bigger guns, irnproved ammunition, and more sophisticated fire control apparatus, but armor protection roughly double that of World Waranks Nonetheless, the chief Urik-producing nations have designed their main battle ranks lo constrain bulk, and to balance Increases In engines, track and suspension systems.
For example, while the. main battle tank Is one-third heavier than its World War IT predecessor, its equipped with an engine more than two limes as powerful Its agility has actually Increased: Its horsepower-to-ton ratio has Increased by one-fourth. Its ground pressure has decrtaitd by one-fourth, and Its maximum cruising range has increased by three limes. Both the United States and the USSR have fielded amphibious light tanks, and many nations have developed various snorkeling devices for underwater fording. Tanks of the United Kingdom have tended to be
somewhat heavier than US designs> perKxi, Soviel and German designs have (ended to be lighter But virtually all new designs have added armor protection and firepower
the same time, mechanical reliability has advanced During the German thrust through the Ardennes into France inore than half the tanks participatins; went out of action due to mechanical failures. Modem main battle tanks are expected tom between mechanical faik
Tank development accelerated inith emphasis on Increasing firepower and improving armor protection Tanb appeared which can fire antitank guided missiles as well as cannon rounds. The missiles have much higher accuracy and greater isnge thanpercent greater. Such missile-tanks can hit tank-abw targets nine out of ten timesangeeters
Also, most modern tanks have been equipped with night vision devices Active sights let soldiers see targets Illuminated with invisible infrared beams out to rangeseters. More significant, there are passive sights with comparable range capability, which let the operator sec targets by natural light (for example,r by detecting the heat emitted by the target (thermal Imagery sights) Thermal sights are effective outeters.
Not Ihe least of modem developments are tanb with stabilized turrets which materially aid gunnersarget, and facilitate firing on Ihe move.
In sum. the capabilities of modern tanb have been eitended to as far as the tanker can see. What he can see. he can hit
THE TANK, WITH ITS CROSS-COUNTRY MOBILITY. ITS PROTECTIVE ARMOR, ITS FORMIDABLE FIREPOWER, HAS BEEN AND IS LIKELY TO REMAIN THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT WEAPON FOR FIGHTING THE (AND BATTLE
White tanks are usual
ly ratedls another tank,ell to remember that infantry-manned weapons areain target for tanksain threat to them Tanks were invented to defeat the infantry defenses of Worldnd remained for nearlyears tbe raameab of fort-soldiers.World War D. shouldercxrJosrve. (for example.rode the tank, invirecibility. But rockets, and the related recoitlc* rifles which lo lowed soon thereafter, called for infantrymen courager-us enough to duel a
',nSe *and -achineguni By the
to anticipate the
, infantry weapons could outreach those of the tank, and their penetrating power
outstripped the proreclive capacity of armor, leading
elimination of the tank a. an effective InMrurrsenl of
PENETRATION VS. ARMOR THICKNESS
Incraatea In armoratingl pace with th* rncreaiea In ranga and accuracy. Thl* chart ahowt
os* tnandv*tfattng poarar
Ol US wMpom cornparad Wiih tha graatrth In tha mairunum iMoanaaa ol armor Of tha Waraaw Pact lank.
5 5 5
OB CREW-SERVED WEAPONS
k- US and USSR craw-served [ infantry antitank waepom
hava tripled their range In lees
Ph" FOB INOTVIOUAL WEAPONS
L US and USSR ntlienh weapons ange* try few Xmt in tne pan eecese
Other rations, notahlv iKe USSR. progressively folded anti-lankmissiles and rocket* ot comparable ranee and accuracy and hitllng power. Additionally, both the United States and the USSR Improved shorter range weapons, so as to achieve high accuracy with light, man-parked, hand-held weaponsangeeters or so. The charts below reflect il* ATGM status of the.
Trends cited for both tank and antitank weapons have posed complex technical problems for armor designers, who must devise counters to antiarmor penetrants and incapacftarrti PenetranU defeat armor by punching through it to attack the men or the machinery inside. fncapncKants Impair the vehicle's ability to move, to shoot, or to communicate. Penetrants rely on one of three forms of energy: kinetic, chesnlca( or nuclear. Incapadtants may be either active or passive- (he former might use chemical espjosives or tosic gas. the latter physical obstacles. In general, armor developers are
craemed with .he following types of threat, and attempt to copehem
fia-itabtliiod, dtt-eerdim; sabot proieciile (APFSD5)
High-cifAdv^ antiunh (HEATJ
obbitttty armor. noreiaBy tor frontal rurfaco: low lilbauelle: stand-off pJitei and raining
boo nrfcrad (ESW) foe artillery ptofcctilri
iiiifd Hji| mine; chemical (gu) mine
lo. highton, agile vehicle. Wihtrad, and protected napnuion, clo^d. fUtenJm
the past tcveial decades most NATO antitank weapon* have sought to eeploit chemical eocrgy penetrants: metal let* formed by the Mtinroe Effect,arhead consistingetal-lined, conical cavity imbeddedylinder of an explosive. Shaped charge warheads have figure* in almost all US. ATGM or AT rocket designs; Irom the World War II "bazooka- through TOW. Today's shaped charge designs achieve extraordinary penetrating power, readily perforating steel of five (or more) warhead diameters inven relatively smallm or so inperforate armor of2A1 tanks Short-range, unguided. shoulder-Uuricfaed rockets thus armed, such as the2 LAW. or therovide the Individual foot soldier with an organic self-defense capabtlily against such tanks. Longer range, guided missiles, such as TOW, achieve high hit and kill probabilities at ranges beyond the reach of their cannon, and hence can be
employed In defensive or offensive overwatch roles from highly protected or even unarmored vehicles, such as Al'Cs or helicopters. Modern armor, such as that of the
T-flO, could change some or all of these tactical relationships, but in tlie meantime
chemical energy warhead evolution proceeds apace, and some believe it can equal or
surpass armor evolution.
Within Ihe past ten years, NATO antitank weapons designers have abo exhibited marked interest in kinetic energy penetrants Unlike missile-borne chemical energy penetrants, which form their print ra ton explosively on Impact, and hence do not rely on [iinjectilc velocity to kill the target, kinetic encigy penctralnrs accumulater lethal energy as they are acceleratedun rube by expanding propellsnt gases The capacity of any lo penetrate depends upon its velocity at the target, and its length, diameter and density. To achieve deeper penetrationixed-mass penetrator, longer, thinner, faster and denser bullets are better in principle, and evolving in rxrssctica* the objectiveery high rationgth to Diameter,o D.
Early tank guns borrowed from small arms technology, and had rifled barrels firing short, steel, fuU-bore-diarneter bullets. Inhe sabot concept was developed- The sabotylindrical shoe whichTcas-than-bore diameter" bullet down the barrel, impounds tbe propellent gases, provides structural support to the penetrator. and Is discarded on muole-exll. Since the sabot's energy is not delivered to the target, designeis attempt to minimize sabot weight and maximize
*uaotMo ofhr daaaoxe from hue of com lo airfare, andon not only of Ihe let but none* ol armor Mom Into tho laterto ot the taiaot
penetrator weight, under the constrain! (hat both must survive the violence of launch. Even with such constraints, the result is not thatero-sum game Sabots opened the way to higher muzzle velocity and penetrators of denser if somewhat weaker alloys than steel, since structural loads on the penetrator can be reduced by good design. Rifled bores could still be used to spin the sabotcd bullet for accuracy, but the length-to-diameter ratio of such "spin stabilized" penetrators is limited to about six. Thus, spin-stabilized armor-piercing discarding shot (APDS) rounds reached some natural limits.
To achieve stable, accurate flights without spin usingenetrators, gun ammunition designers added fins to the base of die rod. Armor-piercing, fin-stabilised, discarding sabot ammunition (APFSDS) isain threat to tanks. Rifling was no longer necessary, but could be used depending on what other ammunition might be lired from the gun Withhe Soviets switchedm tank gun, firing an APFSDS steel penetrator. Current NATO APFSDS penetrator designs use very dense uraniumexample, theound form cannon about to be fielded, and thehe verytaballoy round, being developed for the.
Guns, of course, have the advantage over missiles in rate of fire, ability tond relative invulnerability to smoke, fog, dust or other obscuration; NATO's modern, high-velocity guns and APFSDS penetrators are formidable tank killers, notwilhstanding their comparative shorter range and inaccuracyis some ATGM.
These facts, of course, well known to the Soviets, must be cause for concern in their design bureaus. And this, in turn, shouldocus for the attention. intelligence collectors and analysts.
Probably the Soviets are abo worried by NATO's tendency to develop ever larger shaped-charge warheads for ever more precise antitank guided missiles. (The Soviets' own Munroe Effect designs do not seem to be similarly driven. Some late Soviet ATOM, such as theave featured warheads of smaller diameter than predecessor designs, leading to speculation that they may incorporate dual cones of explosive, one behind the other. Such an arrangement is. designers regard as theoretically feasible but, up to now. impractical.)
Perhaps even more worrisome for the Soviets must be NATO's propensity to develop missiles which climb and dive to attack normal to sloped armor, or other weaponsta eking the top, bottom, and rear of tanks, where heretofore Soviet designs have kept armor thin. Such NATO weapons Include tbe new HELLFIRE ATGM,mm depleted uranium protectiles fired by thes automatic cannon,mm shaped-charge grenades fired. Army hclicoptois or ground troops, and broadcast shaped-charge artillery lubmunitions in the form of grenades or mines. Even more dangerous will be forthcoming precision-guided munitions (PCMs) which employ various kinds of sensors to acqolre the target, to either point and lire Ibe warhead toward it, or to guide the warhead to It These sensors generally detect and measure one component of energy from the electromagnetic spectrum,ombination of such components The energy may be In the form of energy reflected by the target or from its background, energy reflected off tbe targetarget illuminalor, or energy emitted from the target due to its Inlmrent operational or material properties. Such PGMsevere threat because of iheir high probability of hit, but they offer the Soviet designer an additional facet to exploit in countermeasure design, since it may prove easier to foil tbe sophisticated sensor than lo build armor to foil the kill rnecluuiism (warbcad/proicctile).
development effort and ficldlni of the family of scattcrable AT and AP minesnd NATO interest in these systems, is undoubtedly of great interest and concern to th* Soviets These- broadcast mines can be findm artillery, or strewn about by mound vehicle, fixed-wing aircraft, or helicopters The individual AT FASCAM mineagnetic fuze and eiplosives formedype of shaped charge (Misznay-Schardin plate charge) about five inches in diameter. Tlve mine is activated under (he vehicles belly or tracks The explosion penetrates upm of belly armor, yieldinghree-inch diameter bole. The mine requires aboutinch standoff for proper penetrant formation, and therefore its effect Is readily attenuated by soil or other overburden This sucaests that enemy countermeasures to the FASCAM mine threat may include means to push dirt over Ihe mine, lor example,ragmat under the belly. AUo, attempts to provide spall suppression liners in the belly region arc considered likely. At present nothing is known of Soviet attempts toST-AM mines through more rugged belly armor/track and road-wheel design, or tbe addition of equipment (for example, dragmat) to provide overburden, but Intelligence should be looking for these
Finally, Soviet designers appear to be quite conscious of nuclear penetrants, especially neutron radiation They seem lo have Installed anti radial ton liners on the interior of42 expressly to counter this threat, and future designs will probacy Include similar iirccautJons.
Some commentators have held that tank design lias been pushed to the outer limits of technology, and thatill see missiles dominate the battlefield But be who sounds the death knell for the lank had best ask for whom the bell tolls. The pros of technology seems to be disclosing more highly protective, weight-effteient armors as rapidly as missiles appear with unprecedented range and lethality. Soviet armor designers seem to be alert to their technical possibilities for defeating the threats described above. Presently, there are five basic approaches open to them:
armor (eg. US0 series)
Spaced armor (FRC Leopard 1A1 mZ.)
armor (US XM-1)
armor (FRC Leopard 3)
Homogeneous armor Is by far the most common type. But even when coerstructcd of high-grade steels, such as electro-slag purified sted or allowulky, heavy, and inefficient against. tank designers aver thatorcontributeercent to modem armor protection. While they state Ihey would reach forargin when weight and coat penalties permit, they prefer the much more cost-effective solutions available via use of certain laminar materials, or the geometry of spaced plate array, or tbe type and configuration of reactive armor. Soviet designers evidently agree, mire tbe Soviets abandoned homogeneous armor for their main battleull decade ahead of tbe United Stales
Spaced armor uses an outer-armor plate to cause premature triggering ol attacking Munroe Effect warheads, an inner airspace,econd armor surface finally to defeat the Jet penetrant. In general, these designs have not proved to be as elfectivc against modern penetrants as other approaches, but are being used to up-armor fielded tanks. For instance, the West Ce.mi.ns have sought to protect theirank against Soviet missiles by such added-armor (Zuratzranzerung)
RG leopard Tor* with Zorotrponaeewtfl
The Soviets' last twondbelieved to have laminate armor, steel layers sandwiching unknownstbcalcs, ceramics. Fiberglas, or steel balb in aaffords tough, relatively light protection. Our present information leads us to believe that the armor designed for their neit production tankillimilar approach. As discussed above, we have reason to believe that the Soviets already have underore advanced follow-on to. which they consider has even higher leveb of protectionank could exploit "special" armor- like that which the Uniied States has devised for tbe
Analyses conducted by. Army show that an effective medium tank satisfying perceived Soviet design constraints (interior volume, exterior dimensions, track pressure, turret balance,ould be built using US-style "special" armor, per theut the Sovietay be built with reactiveplates sandwiching explosive cells which literally blow penetrants to pieces. The West Germans have been experimenting with such armor, and have found it promising enough toollow-on to the Leopardaround it While US experiments with reactive armor are as yet uKondustve. prospective tanks thus armored could be small, light, and agile.
One feature of laminate, "special" and reactive armor is high potential for upgrading armor protection on fielded tanks. By bolting on new laminate or "special" armor arrays designed to defeat specific threat penetrants, or by hanging reactive armor plates over vulnerable areasbattle dress" forank fleet can be substantiallyt is possible thai the Soviets have already designed such
ways to make their tanks proof against current NATO anti-lank guided missilt TOW. HOT. MILAN. SWING FIRE.nd that these methods may be applicable to the already42 (via add-on plates) as well as to the0.
Both42 are relatively small, low tanks: they weighercent less, and their presented area isercent less than that of the0 series tanks. From what we know oft is also small and low slung The Soviet predilection for small, low-profile tanks probably conflicts somewhat with the use of "special" armor, since it costs heavily in weight and volume, as theK, and FRG designs attest. Use of reactive armor would facilitate the relatively light and agile tanks the Soviets favor. Given the breadth and depth of Soviet armor programs, as well as the extent of Soviet espionage within NATO, it seems prudent to credit the Soviets with involvement in both "special" and reactivo armor technology. From past Soviet design choices, we would expect them to opt in the future for smaller, lighter, faster tanks,ery large main gun and formidable armor, especially across the vehicle's frontal arc.
The Soviet designer Is facedexing problem when it comes to designing countermeasures against precision guided munitions which attack armored vehicles from the top. On the one hand, protecting against the kill mechanism (warhead) requires tne same type of armor technology considerations discussed above, and may result in unacceptable weight and space penalties On the other hand, protecting against the PCM's sensor may require detailed Intelligence Information on Ihe operating frequencies and sensor logic used lo process the measured target signal. To counter lhe sensor, iho designer must develop some method of modifying the energy sped rum of the reflected and/or emitted target signature. The modification may consist of otimmating certain components in the energy spectrum of the target, or of changing the ratio between components of the energy spectrum in tlte signature. The intent of the signature modification is to make the target blend in with the background, or lo make the target appear to the sensor as something which it Is programmed to Ignore (lhatalseignature modification can be accomplished by simple means such as blankets, plywood shielding, or chaff, or by more complicated means such as Jammers, We can expect strong Soviet intelligence efforts lo inform their sensor designers. efforts In tank signature nvxhftcation to preclude fielding expensive precision-guided munitions which could be completely negated. countermeasures.
Soviet tank designers, like our own, probably now believe that they can design armored vehicles proof against virtually any penetrant, provided they are informed of its composition and size. Probably too, they hold that they canenetrant or incapacitant for any tank prodded they know howrotected. Their intelligence service will no doubt strive lo provide tbe key Information In both respects.
Over the whole range of armament technology, that of armor/anti-annoi weapons seems in unusual flux. It is far from being Ihe case, as is often supposed, thai missiles have won assured ascendancy over the tank, or that the lumbering mechanical monsters have been engineered to lhe limits of their potential. New armors, engines, fire control devices, guns and munitions have made possible tanks of new capabilities, including levels of protection beyond lhe penetrants of most current ATGM. The penerrant-protection race Is likely to be Intense throughouts of this writing, Ihe Soviets can be expected to develop some or all of the following.
Tanks with variable armor, and capabilities to "uparrnor" existing fleets to meet perceived new threats.
aura increased in range and accuracy, to redress much of the guns disadvantageis the ATGM evident in.
ATGM with larger-diameter, heavier warheads, and nmc ptobes for optimizing stand-off and attack angle, and/or multiple cones per warhead, as well as precision guidance mechanisms
Individual infantry weapons for top bottom or rear attack of tanks, and deemphasl* on direct-fire, shoulder-fired rockets or rrussiles for frontal attack
combat vehicles built with armor offering levob of protection
comparable to that of tanks.
and bottom shields to counter broadcastrelbs-hke spaced armor to protect from top attack.
Automatic range finders coupled with thermal imagery sights.
Electronic detectors and emitlrrs for countering throat lawn and PGM.
Drapes for camouflage and thermal suppression.
T IS TO BE DONE
Like all nations, tho United State* nurtures myths about Its strengths. We are confident, for example, lhat our national genius for war lies in applying advanced technology to solve military problems; early inh Century. Eli Whitney's power-milled, mtercharateable parts for muskets armed us against France and England; in theh Century. American inventors and irsdustrlalrsts made poatible the first of the modemheh Century, machine stum invented by the Americans Calling. Maxim, Browning. Lewis, and Thompson armed us for both internal and external wars. Butober fact that in the world wars ofh Century what has counted militarily for the United Stales if less advanced technology than superior manpower resources and sheer preponderance of materiel.ershing overwhelmed German defender* in the Meute-Argunne with fresh reservesaiton's slash across France was underwritten wkth dominance in number* of tanksuns andnot heifer weapons (for many compared poorly with Germanut assuredly more weapons. And. it is abo sober fact that World, werealamity ever to come in Central Europe, wouldoldiers against adversaries armed as our national myth* would have Americans armed. We would have lo fight that war in Europe outnumbered, against Soviet-equipped forces trained to thrust through our defenses In fust days or weeks, before we could mobilize our reserves, long before our industry could be brought to bear. It is well to remember that Parton's numerical edge In armor4 was achieved by five years of industrial mobilization in the United States, Detroit having beguntank production with tbe inception of Lend-
armor to full flow.
lso well lo remember that Soviet armor has, in at least one war, torn deep Into American defenses inhen theinch antitank rockels, ihe World War IIxploded without effect on the frontal armor of North Korean4 tanks, more than one US unit broke in panic, word spreading lhat US. weapons had failed. Victory of Soviet-built armor was one probable cause of the "bug-out fever" that ultimately infected our whole force afield, and presented General Rtdgway with his greatest Leadership challenge. But tactical panic In the Eighth Army in Korea, disastrous as It was. proved lernediable Panic in the Seventh Army in Europe could have catastrophic consequences. Potentially even more catastrophic would be the peacetime equivalent of battle panic among tbe peoples and parliaments of NATO: defeatist presumption* that the alliance's arms were futile against Russian armor. In brief. Work! War HI would draw closer:
if Ihe Soviets field Invulnerable armored vehicles, or think they have done so,
if our NATO allies come to believe that Soviet armor is invulnerable, and
If US soldiers lose confidence in their antlarmor weapons
Short of these larger implications of the current pr net rant-protection race, there are large sumsefense funds involved Id decisions which turn on our intelligence estimates of Soviet development. Tho chart on pagedentified Ihe
* mlelliav-tsc* shortfall-is2 tank, depicting thr billion dollar-plusank program directedrotected superiority which has dimiriishcd significantly over time ai our estimate of the Soviet armor sharpened
Bul. other devdopmenl/procurement decisions woie affected as well For oiample.. Army has moved to protect its ATGM Inventory by upgrading TOW's warhead lo hole2 UB (upper bound, worst0 million-plus decision At the same lime, il reiected rcengineerina of the DRAGON because weight, time of flight, and range could not be kept within tolerable limits for attacking (he same threat armor. Had intelligence led the Array to put its credence in2 LB (lower bound, best casehe decision might have gone Ibe other way accept TOW as Is, and up-engineei DRAGON Similarly, confronted with evidence ofm APFSDS tank round's dismal performance2 UB armor, the Army reduced its purchase of (hat munition and transferred funds to the more capablePFSDS. Yet,hese and comparable decisions pertaining to Soviet tanks fielded eight years ago still rest on uncettalnly.
The Intelligence Cards
For Soviet armor developers. Ibeant-protection race rs an open game every move Ihe United Slates makes Is potentially known to our adversaries. In years past. In weapon system after system, we have seen Ihe Sovieti move to field counlers before we couldengthy development cycle lo fruition. Conversely,evelopers itlosed game, our developers perforce proceeding largely uninformed of what their Soviei counterparts have under way.. iiilelligence will collect early, sketchy informationew Soviet armor weapon system, but years pass before we are able to estimate its effectiveness.ure assessment ol armor on42 tanks, which seem lo have been issued to Soviet troop un .ii ai earlyignificant intelligence slrortfalLhich underwent field trials with troopss even more procaematic, andemains an enigma. Our Information on current and coming generation Soviet antlaimororlikewise sparse. However acceptable it may have been In years past to trust American technology and Indusiry to. troops well enough to cope with such Soviet unknowns, that trust scarcely seems prudent for
The V. S. Army properly takes lhe lead in tracking Soviet armorthe Army apparatus, there seems to be an understanding of the issues,priority accorded to resolving them For example, the Assastaatf Chief of StaffDer>ar(ment of the Army,pecial task force focused full timeand analysis re Soviet armor, and has used Army resources imaginativelyrespects But this is an intelligence problem of much larger dimensions thanitself can tackle. Here aro
What Sort ol Intelligence Might Haveifference?
Faact warhead diameters and details of internal cone construct ton for laic odel Soviet ATOM. fl.. androm which the effectiveness of chemical energy penetrants could be calculated
Dimensions of Soviet APFSDS rounds, particularly the length of the ogivehe diameters of the profectlle. fromight be inferred.
Evidence of use of staballoy (depleted uranium) penetratoes. extent thereof
on the materials used in manufacturing Soviet unconventional armor, and tire thickness thereof.
capabilities with "special" armor.
of Soviet interest in. or capabilities, for reactive armor
While it may have been reasonable In past years to assign to collection oo tbe armor penetrant-proteclionriority lower than lhat for siraiegic armaments or tactical nuclear systems, two considerations urge reconsideration:
Strategic nuclear parity raises the premium on non-nuclear weapons.
Given the ceotrably of annor In Soviet strategy. Increments of effort expended on better intelligence could exert strong leverage on Ihe "conventional balance."
Some VS. armor designers hold lhat there Is no undertaking across the whole field of armaments which is in greater technologies) flux, none more sensitive to mtcUigence inputs, and few with higher stakes. This viarw seems well founded while we have many iritelligence shortfalb pertaining to nuclearexample, the range of the BACKFIRE or tbeetires for theuclear artillery in Eastof tliese would, if overcome, cause any change whatsoever in US defense programs. In contrast, intelligence on the armor of0OI. or onm lank gun ammunition penetration potential or on Soviet anUarmor PGM sensors, could after theank and PCM prograrns directly and quickly
This entire article is classifiedForeign
Date of issue of new model tanks or ATOM to troops.
Data on new or advanced trainingexample, night firing, use of lasers for gunnery simulation, or very long-range large!portends new materiel capabilities
Other indications that Soviets are working with ihe developments previously listed.Original document.